Filed Under:  News, OpEd, Opinion

Spiritual think tanks and hotbeds

29th June 2011   ·   1 Comment

By Fr. Jerome LeDoux
The Louisiana Weekly Contributing Writer

Along with the “Rejoice Conference” and the “Archbishop James P. Lyke Conference,” “Uni­ty Explosion” surely qualifies as a spiritual think tank and hotbed of dialogue, culture, music, celebration and communication of the Good News.

After an appropriate greeting, I asked the older adult group, “Why are we here?

“I hope our condition is quite different from that of the folks in an asylum where a visiting psychiatrist asked a group gathered in session, ‘Why are you here?’

“One alert inmate responded, ‘We’re here because we’re not all there!’

“Who is the youngest person here?” I asked the older adults. “We need to know what age para­meters we are talking about when we use the term ‘older adults’. We will have to draw the line in the sand with the youngest of you here.” From some three dozen attendees, the youngest was 47, with one 28-year-old interloper nursing her baby.

“First of all, let me assure you that, although I come to you carrying a complaint about you from the young adults, I not coming at you with any agenda or hostility. My slate is clean, and you will have to fill it up with your answers and observations. I am not here to accuse you, to blame, criticize, embarrass or convict you of anything.”

I then proceeded to read them the charges. “Older adults are at the table and witnessing. Young adults want to come to the table and be a witness (without experience); older adults are quietly or nonverbally saying, ‘There is not a space for you at the table and we will not show or tell you where the chairs are.’ Very simply put… This info came directly from the young adult team!”

“How do you plead to the charge?

One pled “No contest,” another took the fifth, five pled innocent, but all the others pled “Guilty as charged” without hesitation or any attempt to conceal their guilt.

This made my discussion with the younger adult group far easier the following morning. Their response to their elders was almost unanimously positive and healing.

I pointed out previously that the only certain criterion that you are a witness to evangelization, to spreading the Good News, is to serve selflessly as Jesus did, always doing the will of his Father and others, not his own. But what makes this so difficult?

Yearning constantly to be important and in control as the apostles did is a serious impediment to genuine service, and so is wanting to take the credit for each thing you do, while blaming others for what goes wrong. Jesus admonishes us in Luke 17:10, “When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’” (Luke 17:10)

We can get many things done if we are not looking to take the credit.

To God be the glory! As Paul admonishes us in 1Corinthians 10:31,

“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.” “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam,” St. Ignatius Loyola kept as his slogan for life and for his Jesuits (For the Greater Glory of God). Jealousy — clutching what is yours — and envy — coveting what is not yours — are destructive, evil twins that worm their way into choirs, organizations and every activity you do in your biological or church family. Hardly anyone is immune from them.

Beware of cliques! Almost like God, they are everywhere! Cliques are one of the worst forms of elitism, and there is no room for elitism in the world of Jesus who went completely out of his way to include everyone, especially the so-called castoffs: Mary Mag­dalene, the Samaritan woman at the well, little Zacchaeus, the woman caught in adultery, the tax collectors and other questionable folks with whom he associated.

So you think you and your tight friends are better than others? Have you forgotten that Jesus took upon himself the nature of a slave to show us that he was lower than we and the servant of us all? If you are excluding, shutting out older adults or younger adults, chances are that you are shutting out the majority of people across the board. A clique implies strongly that only certain people are worthy of your inner circle of friends and cronies. It implies that the good ideas come from within the clique and little or nothing good comes from outside the clique. Worst of all, it implies that you love your inner-circle friends much more than anyone else. Sometimes, they are the only ones whom you really love. The biggest problem here is that we love God only as much as that person whom we love least of all, as we read so clearly in Matthew 25:45.

Instead of excluding, you should be including everyone in the ministries of adult religious education, Bible Study, Adult spiritual renewal and empowerment, Ministry to the sick/be­reaved, Min­istry to the youth, Min­istry to the elderly, Mi­n­is­try of the liturgy and music, Min­istry of fund­raising and development, Ministry of retreats and revivals, Ministry of parish family festivals. Evan­gelization is a composite of all these ministries.

Toward the end of our discussion, Our Mother of Mercy parishioner Anicetus Fernando’s multi-media Stations of the Cross DVD was screened. It was a smash hit, pointing the way to spreading the Good News through audio-visuals and cyber tools.

We can rephrase “All the world’s a stage,” a saying predating Shake­speare, into “All the world’s a tool, a vehicle of service,” as Paul says in Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work for good for those who love God.” Also, 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10 assures us that we work best when we are empowered by God through our weaknesses.

Commenting on my previous column, “Service Is Class/Gen­eration-Blind,” Art Magaldi a dear friend in New York, observed, “This is somewhat off the point of your article, but it’s great to hear of parishes where younger people want to take leadership roles. Hard to find similar examples around here.”

You folks don’t realize how close you are to achieving true service.

This article originally published in the June 27, 2011 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

Readers Comments (1)

  1. Joyce says:

    Extemrely helpful article, please write more.

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